Disquiet Junto Project 0361: Zork Diaries

Disquiet Junto Project 0361: Zork Diaries
The Assignment: Score a classic interactive fiction.

Step 1: Zork is the title of one of the earliest interactive text adventure games. The complete text of a spoiler-laden full run of the game is at the following URL, housed at Georgia Tech, or the Georgia Institute of Technology:


Step 2: If you’re not familiar with Zork and/or with interactive text adventures, consider reading up. Otherwise, just think of the script as exactly that: the bare-bones narrative of a story.

Step 3: Compose a score (along with, if possible, sound effects) for the first page or so of Zork. It is suggested that you begin with the fifth line of provided text (“West of House”) and end about a page down, where it reads “The door reluctantly opens to reveal a rickety staircase descending into darkness.”

Bonus Alternates: (A) You can, of course, end sooner or later. (B) You can, of course, play the game yourself and score the moves you make. © You can, of course, sort out a means to record alternate, forking versions, based on various potential outcomes of different decisions when playing the game. (D) You might open with a brief opening-credits theme.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0361” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0361” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co.

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, December 3, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted shortly after noon, California time, on Thursday, November 29, 2018.

Length: The length of your track is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0361” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: Please consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

Context: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 361st weekly Disquiet Junto project — Zork Diaries / The Assignment: Score a classic interactive fiction — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:


There’s also a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet to join in.

Image adapted (cropped, text added, etc.) from a Wikipedia photo by Marcin Wichary, thanks to a Creative Commons license:




The project is now live. I hit send already on the TinyLetter email, but it is in some sort of hold position.

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.


Story of my life. :slight_smile:


OK, the TinyLetter finally went through.

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well.
This was a REALLY fun challenge – thank you Mark.
I set the tempo to match the imaginary walk of my imaginary character.
I left little breaks every nine bars so that i could insert my (pretty poor, recorded on a phone) samples for some of the main events in opening section of ZORK: leaflet, window, rug, trap door.
Towards the end, I gradually tuned out the higher frequencies to suggest the descent into darkness.


I did this all on a computer since that seemed appropriate. I tried to avoid dated video game tropes, but still to make it feel somewhat inhuman. The image was also computer altered- a picture of a playground talktube. If you somehow overlooked the import of the title of this tune, I focused on the portion of ZORK that involves the thief.


And the playlist is rolling:


I remember playing the Colossal Cave Adventure long ago, never getting to the end. I was able to finish a number of the Scott Adams adventure games, and even wrote one of my own as an exercise to see how much I could fit into the 16k RAM of my TI-99/4A.

I like the concept of writing music for a text adventure game and have broken this initial part of the game into three movements, Adagio, Andante, and Allegro.

The score is available at http://bit.ly/2Rpfygd


Great work, yet again. The passage from around 4m through to the end is achingly beautiful.


I imagined the Zork diary as needing a soundtrack like a ‘silent’ movie.

At around a minute you see me hit the spacebar to move to the next page.

It ends at the attic.


I guess it sounds like a computer game?

Sample from Andy Warhol’s Bad.



For this project, I thought how Zork Diaries might sound as an interactive fiction played on a system with modern audio capabilities (something like With Those We Love: https://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=445d989vuwlh4cvz). I’m also a big fan of making foley so for this, I dug through my collection of field recordings for the sound effects.

All sounds by me aside from these:

Atmospheric drones: Generdyn - Free Cinematic Sounds
Footsteps on wood: https://freesound.org/people/martian/
Water bottle: https://freesound.org/people/njabrams
Door creaking: https://freesound.org/people/0XMUSEX0/
Bowed Cymbal: Percussa Toolbox from 99Sounds


i hated text adventures as a kid. i had neverending story on the spectrum and it was utter trash.
i just played this one online, and my feelings havent really changed. it just felt like i was blindly aimlessly going round and round. my brain doesnt do visual imagery so this sort of thing is pointless to me.

on one level this track follows me failing to get into a house, going up a tree and failing to unclasp a jeweled egg, not knowing where a songbird is, going down a ravine and getting nowhere for ages, and getting a sarcastic remark when i tried to take rainbow - i mean i dont know what internal logic youre following but if i can get to the end of a rainbow why am i ridiculed for trying to take it?

on another level i’ve represented the frustration blindness and darkness of this game… and the sound of a spectrum tape loading

no input feedback in podfarm standalone
improvised playing thru synthmaster - freqecho - vocal doubler - podfarm (guitar amp + 3 lots of cavernous reverb)


Zork. I should have recorded silence. Was there any sound on the original Zork? Then I was thinking VIC-20. 3 oscillators and noise. Something simple. Clean wave forms. Mono. No reverb. Making 8-bit music on an analog modular. Digital emulation.
Okay, you could not play Zork on VIC-20… May be with an CP/M cartridge? I have never been a “gamer”. Also I used a saw-tooth wave and a filter. That did not exist on VIC-20. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Badly tuned modular, no overdubs, fiddly session… Enjoy :wink:
Don’t use headphones. Best with laptop- or phone speakers.


Bassling, I really like the mood of this track: lost and hesitant… Great soundscape.
How do you get your guitar to sound like a piano?
I play guitar, but it takes me hours to transfer things manually from my guitar to my midi controller - I think your method would be much better for me!!
Thank you in advance for your help!!


Thanks. Hesitant is right, I should’ve edited a few notes.

I’m using a Roland GM-70 to convert guitar to MIDI.

Another option would be using the ‘convert to MIDI’ function in Ableton Live.


LOL, it’s not your playing that is hesitant, but the tone of the music… Oh come on, you know what I mean!!

Thanks for the info, I’ll check them both out.

Best wishes,

how the night came

1 Like


The rhythm of doors and windows opening and closing


I remember playing Zork I on some PC with two Floppy Disk Drives … the game was mainly WALKing around and LOOKing for the great adventure. So I started with the step samples, added a walking bass and filled the search with some Great Underground Empire pads.

So this is not mainly a score for or from the game, it’s more a score from the mind of the young gamer, who did at that time not need any graphics to have an adventure … although I preferred “The Leather Goddesses of Phobos”.